Death of a Friendship

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We know how devastating and life-changing it is to break up with a love partner. We have many songs, poems, and great novels that describe the ache and dolor of ending a romantic relationship. My experience breaking up with a college friend after many, many years was maybe not equal to the loss of a love, but it was bitter and shattering anyway.

It’s easy to make deep and lasting friendships at a residential college, when many students of the same age are living together, going to classes, games, and parties together, while also going through times of great growth and change. How many thrilling, soul-satisfying nights did we spend talking over the meaning of life and our deepest yearnings, the future so endlessly stretched out ahead of us? That’s when I became friends with Shelley (not her real name). We met freshman year and bonded quickly. When my roommate took a semester off, Shelley moved in with me. We loved playing bridge and taking long walks to talk over our relationships with boys and to shake out the tensions of college life. I so admired her intelligence and discipline in her approach to classwork.  I had never seen a person be so delighted at the prospect of writing a two-page paper on a Baudelaire poem.  And she had a very sharp wit — no one before or since has been better at puns.  She became one of my very best friends. (read more…)

What Went Wrong with Feminism?

Image of a women's liberation protest by Warren K. Leffler
Image of a women’s liberation protest by Warren K. Leffler

 

I was at the heart of the second wave feminist uprising when I moved to Manhattan in 1969 at the age of 22. The help wanted ads in the newspaper were still divided into men’s jobs and women’s jobs (hard to imagine now), but women who had made the coffee and bore the babies for the rabble-rousing men of the Free Speech and Civil Rights movements were beginning to get restive.  What about our issues?

The male revolutionaries didn’t care about our issues, but they HAD taught us to organize, so we pressed for equality ourselves.  It was a heady time. Gloria Steinem was constantly in the news and Betty Friedan’s “The Second Sex” was being read widely.  We held consciousness-raising sessions in living rooms in Greenwich Village and eventually in larger spaces like churches and synagogues.  We marched for equal pay for equal work, for the right to safe and legal abortions, for equal opportunities to advance in business and the professions, and for the Equal Rights Amendment which would enshrine our status as the equals of men before the law in the Constitution.   (read more…)

The Abortion I Didn’t Regret

RoevWade protest

In the spring of 1975, at age 28 — during my first year in law school — I had an abortion. Given the same circumstances, I would do it again.  I am telling the story of it now, almost 40 years later, because I want to share my experience directly, without the filters of religiosity or advocacy that otherwise make abortion almost impossible to talk about.  The widely-respected Guttmacher Institute reports that since 1973 when Roe vs. Wade was decided, nearly 53 million legal abortions have been performed in the U.S.  Yet the subject has become so fraught, few women admit to having had one.  Many people give lip-service to the idea that having an abortion is “not an easy decision.”  But millions of women make the decision for their own reasons every year.  This is my story.

(read more…)